For Valour: Recipients of the Victoria Cross, 1914 - 18

4 November 2017 - 3 June 2018

Room 31: case display, Floor 1


Albert Ball
by Argent Archer
circa 1915
NPG P657

To mark the centenary of the First World War, this display consisting of two showcases, commemorates recipients of the Victoria Cross (VC). The VC is the highest commendation in the British honours system for members of the military. Named after Queen Victoria and established at the end of the Crimean War in 1856, the VC is awarded only in exceptional circumstances, for acts of extreme bravery carried out under direct enemy fire.

The VC was awarded 628 times for action during the First World War, accounting for almost half of all the 1,356 Victoria Crosses awarded and the most presented in a single conflict. These stark figures emphasise the huge loss of life and tremendous acts of bravery that characterised this war. The great public interest in VC recipients and their inspirational stories was fuelled by collectable ephemera such as cigarette or post cards. The depiction of war heroes served as visual propaganda to turn attention towards bravery and individual achievements, rather than the horrors of war and heavy casualties. As well as examples of publicly available photographs this display also features studio portraits which were taken as a record of honours received and as mementos for wives and family.

Photographs Collection: Display